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Mad About . . .

The Househunter: Designer Rachel Chudley’s Home

21st May 2021
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No film this week as we have a real interior designer’s home to visit and one of my favourites at that. Rachel Chudley has featured on these pages before and her home – a live/work space in a converted stable (all words to make the boldest interior designers quake a little in their boots) – is a gorgeous riot of saturated colour and clever ideas.

It’s on the market with Inigo for £1.5m and comprises two entirely separate spaces linked by an internal garden. It was originally built as a speculative four block development between 1899 and 1904 with furniture makers in mind. On the edge of Bethnal Green and Hackney, it is now home to workshops, terrace housing and warehouses.

It’s full of great features such as an undulating ceiling and custom paint colours created for Rachel by Donald Kaufman Colour, one of which is the delightfully named Picked Ginger. And because it’s slightly complicated to explain the layout I’m going to put the floor plan here and then we can look at the rooms without worrying about what goes where.

Shall we start at the very beginning… the kitchen… a very good place to start, as they say. And, as you can see, it is open to this pretty courtyard. This is where I would be as soon as the sun came out. As long as the wifi worked I would be set up out here all day. I already own some wrought iron chairs like this which bring on the need for baguette and café au lait every time I see them. That said they’re not comfortable enough for longer than an espresso so the whole WFO (outside) might need a rethink if I’m to live here.

This, as you will note from the floorplan, is the corridor that connect the two halves of the house – live and work and which is only accessed via the courtyard. I rather like this – it means you have to go outside to get to work which means you will emotionally and physically leave home which, if we have learnt nothing this year (and how long are we going to keep saying that for) is important for the mind at the start and end of teh day. Also though – rain. And shoes. Not slippers.

Now this is a clever way to deal with an immoveable feature. Like it or not you have to embrace it. So often people try and disguise things they don’t like and it tends not to work. You can still see it. The trick is to embrace it and make it look like you meant it. So rather than trying to blend this angled brick chimney into the wall, it has been painted a toning colour with the inside in a contrast. Simple ideal, really effective works with any three colours that you might like – two shades of green and a pink, a burgundy, fading to a mid and ending up as a pale. There are all sorts of ways to tackle it and you can take the same approach to whatever immoveable, perhaps unloved, features you have in your own homes.

Back over to the main house and the kitchen and you can see the ceiling isn’t terribly high and the room isn’t even that big (some of the houses Rachel works on are on a very grand scale) but this one feels like a home. The dark blue windows frame the view and the colour is picked up in the chairs, which look suspiciously like they might be leopard print.

I’m also very keen on the hint of unfitted kitchen units on the left… that’s my dream kitchen right there…

But let’s leave that and gaze in awe at this canopied sofa for a moment or two. Now this might not be your style and it’s quite a full on piece to have in a house but even without the canopy it’s an inspiring piece. The pillars have been wrapped in matching fabric, the cobalt blue and cinnamon are this house’s red thread and it’s a completely original and joyous piece of furniture. From now on I want you to commit this piece of furniture to your mind and when you are pondering some terribly sensible but quite dull I want to you to think “Could I be a bit more Chudley with this decision?”. The answer will nearly always be yes and you won’t regret it.

And even if you don’t go full Chudley with the sofa, let’s consider bedheads. Why are they square or rectangle? Could we make more of them to be a proper feature in a room? Well take a look at this. I mean yes it didn’t come from the high street and it will have been specially made but you know what? You could have a go yourself, you could ask a local tradesman or you could paint a shape on the wall and put your pillows in front of it.

And this is the bedroom from the other side. I think that fabric is purely decorative but if you have a pattern or some wallpaper that gives you joy just to look at it then stick up up there.

That shot above was taken from this fabulous bathroom below. And I said earlier in the week that I wasn’t a bath person but I could change my mind for this. Or maybe I would have built a huge window seat and laid on that to read a book instead of in a puddle of water. Each to their own. The decor’s still fab.

This is the other bedroom. I have been trying to persuade the 20yo or The Mad Husband that a striped wallpaper ceiling is the thing for about three years. So far I’m not winning. So I will just keep gazing at this and hoping. But look at the details – you might have thought a sloping ceiling was an irritating feature to deal with – Rachel has emphasised it with the wallpaper and made a point with the sloping bedhead. Simple. Clever. One of those “wish I’d thought of that moments”. Might actually have to redecorate the loft with its sloping ceiling to make a point of having a bed like that moments.

So do you like it? Do you feel inspired? Here, for one last time is that glorious leaf-shaped headboard in full with the matching metallic leaf sconces beside it. Anyone buying it?

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  • Jen 31st May 2021 at 9:42 pm

    If you like the striped ceilings I’d recommend looking at the circus bedrooms at Kingston Lacey (NT property in Dorset) if you haven’t seen them. They make me so happy!

  • Miriam 30th May 2021 at 11:42 am

    I like it. I like how it reflects a personal style and somehow looks intentional but not contrived. It feels like a place where someone lives their life. I also like how it’s not all super-super-slick.

  • Philippa 26th May 2021 at 9:55 am

    Oh dear, apart from the lovely courtyard, these interiors look like cheap, badly designed versions of Beata Heuman’s work. It’s all in the detail, and it seems to be the detail that’s lacking here. Sorry to be so negative, Kate.

  • Kim 21st May 2021 at 3:28 pm

    Love the courtyard and the woodwork, especially the interior windows that make up the bedroom. A lot of the decor is a bit too Elton John for me though (not that I don’t love his music). Anyone else notice that the headboard in the second bedroom mirrors the red angled chimney in the living room? I wonder if looking through a doorway you can see them both at the same time?

  • Pamela Zelman 21st May 2021 at 3:08 pm

    I love, love how all that saturated color is tempered by all that daylight. And what’s not to love about those stall walls?

    Regarding those headboards: I think scale is also important. Those bedrooms are tiny, which doubles-down on the effect of color and shape. My husband and I used 10′ tall Gothic screen doors from an old church as a headboard. Doors & gates as headboards isn’t new; what works for us is the scale — 10 ft doors on a 14 ft wall. Lots of ways to apply that lesson, I think.

  • Carol Derrick 21st May 2021 at 2:05 pm

    Love the kitchen units. Are they copper or some kind of paint effect ?

  • Minnie Claridge 21st May 2021 at 12:50 pm

    My favourite interior designer! I want the fabric on the 4-poster couch, anyone know what it is?

  • Allison 21st May 2021 at 11:31 am

    I completely love this and if I had no kids or husband this would be my dream home…
    The glass/timber partitions are so much nicer than a solid wall. I’d love to know who she gets to make all her shaped furniture and ceilings etc, which I assume are made from mdf.
    Can’t wait to see where she’s moving to!!

  • Tara Kaufmann 21st May 2021 at 10:00 am

    I would keep everything!

  • Vicky Wilford 21st May 2021 at 9:27 am

    The courtyard is lovely, as are the painted windows, but a lot of the design choices are far too maximalist and boho for my taste! Interesting post though and inspired me to check out her work, thanks Kate 😊

  • Catherine 21st May 2021 at 8:50 am

    Lots to love here. The entrance gates on the street are gorgeous. Love the colour palette and use of fabric, furniture and texture make it so warm and inviting. It has elements of fantasy or a stage set – that incredible sofa especially with the amazing gold fittings at the top (I have no idea what they are!). It’s joyful and playful throughout.
    I’m not sure I would enjoy sleeping under the striped wallpaper in the bedroom – I think I need more tranquility!

  • Helen Peavitt 21st May 2021 at 8:40 am

    Love it! Such clever ideas too…

  • Jenny 21st May 2021 at 8:02 am

    The courtyard is gorgeous. I’d buy it for that but I would not be keeping much of the interior design to be honest!

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